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Jess Briggs and the maintenance team at Thiess’ Mt Owen operations provided direct input into the design of the LA40 tool.

Thiess fitter Jess Briggs is no stranger to the busy maintenance workshop environment. So, when offered the opportunity to help improve workplace efficiencies and safety on the job, she didn’t hesitate.

Jess and the maintenance team at Thiess’ Mt Owen operations in New South Wales, recently collaborated with local company Nivek Industries to develop the ingenious new Lift Assist 40 (LA40) tool manipulator arm.

Tasked with ensuring the project’s ultra-class fleet is in top working condition, Jess and the team had been researching a more efficient and safer way to carry out daily duties.

The team had already adopted Nivek’s Tracked Elevating Device (TED) – a remote-controlled, multi-purpose belly plate jack – helping to improve access when working under heavy machinery.

They now focused on improving the use of heavy tools.

The LA40 design aims to take the weight out of a wide range of tools including rattle guns, impact drivers, pneumatic torque guns, air sanders and more, removing the strain from the operator.

Jess and the maintenance team provided direct input into its development, visiting Nivek’s workshop on several occasions throughout the design and trial phase.

The familiarity with the hydraulic arm has enabled Jess to use the LA40 when she’s performing maintenance duties in the workshop because of the obvious safety aspect and efficiency gains.

“Previously, you’d be bolstering yourself up and pushing into something that’s vibrating back at you. It’s not ideal for your posture and the weight of the torque is quite substantial against your body, so the LA40 has made a big difference,” Jess explained.

You’re hardly doing a five-minute job – when you’re doing a series of maintenance jobs, it could be hours at a time. Holding and using heavy tools is more physically demanding. The LA40 is designed to reduce fatigue and improve productivity every shift.

Jess Briggs Thiess fitter

The LA40 tool has tackled the weighty challenge of tooling.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Thiess’ Maintenance Coordinator David Crick who explained the arm could handle a safe working load of up to 40 kilograms.

“At Thiess, we’re passionate about keeping everyone safe everyday – that’s number one,” said David.

“The goal of the LA40 is to keep fitters’ hands safe at all times and keep fingers and hands out of crush zones – especially when loosening and tightening nuts and bolts.”

The innovation and smarts that have gone into the hydraulic arm have also generated improvements to productivity, with Thiess’ workshop trainer Adam Geosists a fan of the 360 degree movement the arm allows.

“It means our fitters can do two things at once: for example, putting the cutting edge back on the dozer and using a Tracked Elevating Device with the LA40 to bolt,” said Adam.

“The LA40 has turned cleaning dozers into a one-person job rather than two, and that’s a huge efficiency.”

The collaboration with Nivek Industries is just one example of how Thiess is working with suppliers to bring innovative ideas to life, giving back to the industry and driving client value.

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